SATA controller hot swap?

Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.storage,it.comp.hardware.storage (More info?)

I was trying to set up a network storage box and I have a question about
what SATA controller I might need.

I'm looking at an Asus P5RD1-V motherboard and it has 4 onboard SATA
channels. I want to hot-swap the drives though, and cannot find anything in
the documentation that says whether I can do that or not.

I have hot swap bays for the drives, but is that all I need? Is whether or
not you can hot swap a drive dependent on the physical connections (which I
have covered) or is it a feature that the controller must support?

My confusion comes in because the SATA spec says that SATA is
hot-swappable... so shouldn't every controller follow the spec and be able
to have drives swapped?

Of course, this comes down to a money issue. I have a motherboard with SATA
onboard, but do I really need to buy a $300 card on top of that to hot-swap?

--
Shawn Wilson
17 answers Last reply
More about sata controller swap
  1. Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.storage,it.comp.hardware.storage (More info?)

    > I was trying to set up a network storage box and I have a question about
    > what SATA controller I might need.
    >
    > I'm looking at an Asus P5RD1-V motherboard and it has 4 onboard SATA
    > channels. I want to hot-swap the drives though, and cannot find anything
    in
    > the documentation that says whether I can do that or not.
    >
    > I have hot swap bays for the drives, but is that all I need? Is whether
    or
    > not you can hot swap a drive dependent on the physical connections (which
    I
    > have covered) or is it a feature that the controller must support?
    >
    > My confusion comes in because the SATA spec says that SATA is
    > hot-swappable... so shouldn't every controller follow the spec and be able
    > to have drives swapped?
    >
    > Of course, this comes down to a money issue. I have a motherboard with
    SATA
    > onboard, but do I really need to buy a $300 card on top of that to
    hot-swap?

    It is like asking, is SCSI hot-swappable?
    Yes and no. Depends on particular implementation.
    And on the meaning of "hot-swappable".

    Provide more details for more accurate answer.
  2. Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.storage,it.comp.hardware.storage (More info?)

    "Shawn Wilson" <shawnw_nospam_@_nospam_dvigroup.net> wrote in message news:2M0Ue.323434$kM5.78719@fe01.news.easynews.com
    > I was trying to set up a network storage box and I have a question about
    > what SATA controller I might need.
    >
    > I'm looking at an Asus P5RD1-V motherboard and it has 4 onboard SATA
    > channels. I want to hot-swap the drives though, and cannot find anything in
    > the documentation that says whether I can do that or not.
    >
    > I have hot swap bays for the drives, but is that all I need? Is whether or
    > not you can hot swap a drive dependent on the physical connections (which I
    > have covered) or is it a feature that the controller must support?

    And driver and OS as well.

    >
    > My confusion comes in because the SATA spec says that SATA is hot-swappable...

    > so shouldn't every controller follow the spec and be able to have drives swapped?

    Since it doesn't have latches that activate and prevent you from physically swapping
    the drive that probably just means that there is a mechanism in place that the driver
    can pickup on and notify the OS and applications that a drive was disconnected
    (or re-connected).

    Whether drive swap is actually working depends on whether the card's driver
    dynamically reports a swap and how the applications and OS react on that.

    >
    > Of course, this comes down to a money issue. I have a motherboard with SATA
    > onboard, but do I really need to buy a $300 card on top of that to hot-swap?
  3. Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.storage,it.comp.hardware.storage (More info?)

    Shawn Wilson <shawnw_nospam_@_nospam_dvigroup.net> wrote

    > I was trying to set up a network storage box and I have a question about what
    > SATA controller I might need.

    > I'm looking at an Asus P5RD1-V motherboard and it has 4 onboard SATA channels.
    > I want to hot-swap the drives though, and cannot find
    > anything in the documentation that says whether I can do that or not.

    Its part of the SATA standard, so you always can.

    > I have hot swap bays for the drives, but is that all I need?

    That part is just for mechanical convenience, and yes, thats all you need.

    > Is whether or not you can hot swap a drive dependent on the physical
    > connections (which I have covered) or is it a feature that the controller must
    > support?

    Nope, its part of the SATA standard.

    > My confusion comes in because the SATA spec says that SATA is hot-swappable...

    Correct.

    > so shouldn't every controller follow the spec and be able to have drives
    > swapped?

    Yes, and that's why Asus doesnt say anything about it, it comes with SATA.

    > Of course, this comes down to a money issue. I have a motherboard with SATA
    > onboard, but do I really need to buy a $300 card on top of that to hot-swap?

    Nope.
  4. Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.storage,it.comp.hardware.storage (More info?)

    "Rod Speed" <rod_speed@yahoo.com> wrote
    > Shawn Wilson <shawnw_nospam_@_nospam_dvigroup.net> wrote
    >
    >> so shouldn't every controller follow the spec and be able to have drives
    >> swapped?
    >
    > Yes, and that's why Asus doesnt say anything about it, it comes with SATA.

    So would it be 'safe' to buy any SATA controller and expect it to work?

    The thing that gets me is simply that when I look for say 4 port cards, I
    find a no-name card for $22, a HighPoint card for $88, and a Promise card
    for $209 that don't mention hot-swap. Then I find a $288 Adaptec and a $300
    3ware that specifically mentions hot-swap. That suggests to me that there
    is something 'special' about those controllers. Now, maybe that's just the
    lemming 'get what you pay for' in me, but what drives a card from $22 to
    $300?

    Besides what company one might like better or expect better support from,
    why is there such a huge price difference if they all do the same thing?
    (and by the same thing I mean having 4 ports, raid 0/1/0+1, and presumably
    hot-swap)

    When I look at RAM I can buy Kingston valueram for $100 or Crucial for $150
    (hypathetically) and know that if the cas timings are the same I'm simply
    paying for quality and potential longevity. That price difference makes
    sense. The price difference on SATA controllers does not, at least not to
    me.

    Lastly, most of the 8 port cards are 64bit cards. I only have 32bit PCI
    available. Someone said they'll still work... is that true?

    --
    Shawn Wilson
  5. Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.storage,it.comp.hardware.storage (More info?)

    "Rod Speed" <rod_speed@yahoo.com> wrote in message news:3oblpsF51limU1@individual.net
    > Shawn Wilson <shawnw_nospam_@_nospam_dvigroup.net> wrote
    >
    > > I was trying to set up a network storage box and I have a question about what
    > > SATA controller I might need.
    >
    > > I'm looking at an Asus P5RD1-V motherboard and it has 4 onboard SATA channels.
    > > I want to hot-swap the drives though, and cannot find
    > > anything in the documentation that says whether I can do that or not.
    >
    > Its part of the SATA standard, so you always can.

    Nonsense. SCSI is hotswap too but not all SCSI support it.

    >
    > > I have hot swap bays for the drives, but is that all I need?
    >
    > That part is just for mechanical convenience, and yes, thats all you need.
    >
    > > Is whether or not you can hot swap a drive dependent on the physical
    > > connections (which I have covered) or is it a feature that the controller must
    > > support?
    >
    > Nope, its part of the SATA standard.
    >
    > > My confusion comes in because the SATA spec says that SATA is hot-swappable...
    >
    > Correct.
    >
    > > so shouldn't every controller follow the spec and be able to have drives
    > > swapped?
    >
    > Yes, and that's why Asus doesnt say anything about it, it comes with SATA.
    >
    > > Of course, this comes down to a money issue. I have a motherboard with SATA
    > > onboard, but do I really need to buy a $300 card on top of that to hot-swap?
    >
    > Nope.
  6. Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.storage,it.comp.hardware.storage (More info?)

    "Shawn Wilson" wrote:
    > The thing that gets me is simply that when I look for say 4 port cards, I
    > find a no-name card for $22, a HighPoint card for $88, and a Promise card
    > for $209 that don't mention hot-swap. Then I find a $288 Adaptec and a $300
    > 3ware that specifically mentions hot-swap. That suggests to me that there
    > is something 'special' about those controllers. Now, maybe that's just the
    > lemming 'get what you pay for' in me, but what drives a card from $22 to
    > $300?
    >[.........]
    > Lastly, most of the 8 port cards are 64bit cards. I only have 32bit PCI
    > available. Someone said they'll still work... is that true?


    Call the manufacturers and ask them. Better yet, email them.
    At least with email, you'll have a trail, and they'll know it.

    *TimDaniels*
  7. Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.storage,it.comp.hardware.storage (More info?)

    "Shawn Wilson" <shawnw_nospam_@_nospam_dvigroup.net> wrote in message
    news:Gc2Ue.320324$WN5.161923@fe02.news.easynews.com...
    >
    > So would it be 'safe' to buy any SATA controller and expect it to work?
    >
    > The thing that gets me is simply that when I look for say 4 port cards, I
    > find a no-name card for $22, a HighPoint card for $88, and a Promise card
    > for $209 that don't mention hot-swap. Then I find a $288 Adaptec and a $300
    > 3ware that specifically mentions hot-swap. That suggests to me that there
    > is something 'special' about those controllers. Now, maybe that's just the
    > lemming 'get what you pay for' in me, but what drives a card from $22 to
    > $300?
    >
    Anything under $50 is SATA1, and does not have hot-swap or NCQ.

    SATA2 cards are generally PCI-X, often 64-bit. The driver support for
    SATA2 features like hot-swap add to the cost. The cheapest cards are
    probably have the SiI chips, which you can look up at siliconimage.com.

    > Besides what company one might like better or expect better support from,
    > why is there such a huge price difference if they all do the same thing?
    > (and by the same thing I mean having 4 ports, raid 0/1/0+1, and presumably
    > hot-swap)
    >
    SATA2 cards are for the server market, and support adds to the cost.

    > When I look at RAM I can buy Kingston valueram for $100 or Crucial for $150
    > (hypathetically) and know that if the cas timings are the same I'm simply
    > paying for quality and potential longevity. That price difference makes
    > sense. The price difference on SATA controllers does not, at least not to
    > me.
    >
    > Lastly, most of the 8 port cards are 64bit cards. I only have 32bit PCI
    > available. Someone said they'll still work... is that true?
    >
    Yes, if the PCI slots are not keyed for 5V.
  8. Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.storage,it.comp.hardware.storage (More info?)

    Shawn Wilson <shawnw_nospam_@_nospam_dvigroup.net> wrote
    > Rod Speed <rod_speed@yahoo.com> wrote
    >> Shawn Wilson <shawnw_nospam_@_nospam_dvigroup.net> wrote

    >>> so shouldn't every controller follow the spec and be able to have drives
    >>> swapped?

    >> Yes, and that's why Asus doesnt say anything about it, it comes with SATA.

    > So would it be 'safe' to buy any SATA controller and expect it to work?

    Yep, the hot swap capability is just the mechanical detail and OS support.

    > The thing that gets me is simply that when I look for say 4 port
    > cards, I find a no-name card for $22, a HighPoint card for $88, and a Promise
    > card for $209 that don't mention hot-swap.

    Basicallly because hot swap is part of the SATA standard.

    > Then I find a $288 Adaptec and a $300 3ware that specifically mentions
    > hot-swap. That suggests to me that there is something 'special' about those
    > controllers.

    It shouldnt, because hot swap is part of the SATA standard.

    > Now, maybe that's just the lemming 'get what you pay
    > for' in me, but what drives a card from $22 to $300?

    Various other capabilitys like RAID and the inevitable
    price you always pay for the brand name products.

    > Besides what company one might like better or expect better support from, why
    > is there such a huge price difference if they all do the same thing?

    They dont, some have RAID better implemented than others etc.

    And the cheapest SATA support is obviously with the motherboard.

    > (and by the same thing I mean having 4 ports, raid 0/1/0+1, and presumably
    > hot-swap)

    > When I look at RAM I can buy Kingston valueram for $100 or Crucial for $150
    > (hypathetically) and know that if the cas timings are the same I'm simply
    > paying for quality and potential longevity. That price difference makes
    > sense.

    I dont believe it does myself and dont bother with either of them.

    > The price difference on SATA controllers does not, at least not to me.

    Its more that the highest priced SATA controllers arent used by
    many and so there has to be a price premium for that reason alone.

    > Lastly, most of the 8 port cards are 64bit cards. I only have 32bit PCI
    > available. Someone said they'll still work... is that true?

    You said your motherboard supports SATA, so why do you need a card at all ?
  9. Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.storage,it.comp.hardware.storage (More info?)

    Folkert Rienstra <see_reply-to@myweb.nl> wrote
    > Rod Speed <rod_speed@yahoo.com> wrote
    >> Shawn Wilson <shawnw_nospam_@_nospam_dvigroup.net> wrote

    >>> I was trying to set up a network storage box and I have
    >>> a question about what SATA controller I might need.

    >>> I'm looking at an Asus P5RD1-V motherboard and it has 4 onboard
    >>> SATA channels. I want to hot-swap the drives though, and cannot find
    >>> anything in the documentation that says whether I can do that or not.

    >> Its part of the SATA standard, so you always can.

    > Nonsense. SCSI is hotswap too but not all SCSI support it.

    Thanks for that completely superfluous proof that you cant
    even manage a viable troll, or anything else at all, either.

    >>> I have hot swap bays for the drives, but is that all I need?
    >>
    >> That part is just for mechanical convenience, and yes, thats all you
    >> need.
    >>
    >>> Is whether or not you can hot swap a drive dependent on the physical
    >>> connections (which I have covered) or is it a feature that the
    >>> controller must support?
    >>
    >> Nope, its part of the SATA standard.
    >>
    >>> My confusion comes in because the SATA spec says that SATA is
    >>> hot-swappable...
    >>
    >> Correct.
    >>
    >>> so shouldn't every controller follow the spec and be able to have
    >>> drives swapped?
    >>
    >> Yes, and that's why Asus doesnt say anything about it, it comes with
    >> SATA.
    >>
    >>> Of course, this comes down to a money issue. I have a motherboard
    >>> with SATA onboard, but do I really need to buy a $300 card on top
    >>> of that to hot-swap?
    >>
    >> Nope.
  10. Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.storage,it.comp.hardware.storage (More info?)

    > It is like asking, is SCSI hot-swappable?
    > Yes and no. Depends on particular implementation.
    > And on the meaning of "hot-swappable".

    Hot-swap means ability to replace a failed component with a good device in a
    fault tolerant system, without causing disruption to an operating computer.
    If you want to hot-swap a hard drive, then you need to have a RAID system.
    It is up to your RAID implementation to manage a rebuild process.
    Physical removal and addition of powered on HD, requires a special
    electrical (and mechanical) conditions to be done safely. Normally power and
    signalling connectors are combined, with a special care given to contacts
    length and positions. It is done to ensure a proper sequence of establishing
    contacts (ground, power, data) during plug and unplug operations.
    Mechanically, connector(s) are placed on a backplane and special guide rails
    and latches are designed to facilitate a smooth and reliable disk
    attachments and detachments.

    So, you need a RAID compliant controller or Operating System for software
    RAID - to perform rebuild; and a hard disk enclosure (backplane and disk
    trays) which support hot-swapping. SATA drives and SATA controller are not
    enough.
  11. Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.storage,it.comp.hardware.storage (More info?)

    "Rod Speed" <rod_speed@yahoo.com> wrote
    > Shawn Wilson <shawnw_nospam_@_nospam_dvigroup.net> wrote
    >> Rod Speed <rod_speed@yahoo.com> wrote
    >>> Shawn Wilson <shawnw_nospam_@_nospam_dvigroup.net> wrote
    >>
    >> Lastly, most of the 8 port cards are 64bit cards. I only have 32bit PCI
    >> available. Someone said they'll still work... is that true?
    >
    > You said your motherboard supports SATA, so why do you need a card at all
    > ?
    >

    I am actually dealing with 2 machines, one with 4 SATA ports onboard (Asus
    motherboard - and Asus confirmed that theirs are hot-swapable) and one
    without SATA onboard because I need 8 ports in that one. I didn't elaborate
    that before because I didn't feel it was needed information. The card would
    be for the machine without on-board SATA.


    --
    Shawn Wilson
  12. Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.storage,it.comp.hardware.storage (More info?)

    "Eric Gisin" <ericgisin@hotmail.com> wrote
    > "Shawn Wilson" <shawnw_nospam_@_nospam_dvigroup.net> wrote in message
    > news:Gc2Ue.320324$WN5.161923@fe02.news.easynews.com...
    >>
    >> The thing that gets me is simply that when I look for say 4 port cards, I
    >> find a no-name card for $22, a HighPoint card for $88, and a Promise card
    >> for $209 that don't mention hot-swap. Then I find a $288 Adaptec and a
    >> $300
    >> 3ware that specifically mentions hot-swap. That suggests to me that
    >> there
    >> is something 'special' about those controllers. Now, maybe that's just
    >> the
    >> lemming 'get what you pay for' in me, but what drives a card from $22 to
    >> $300?
    >>
    > Anything under $50 is SATA1, and does not have hot-swap or NCQ.

    I neglected to mention whether I wanted SATA 150 or SATA II, and ALL of what
    I'm dealing with is SATA 150. While you say all cards under $50 do not have
    hot-swap, I've confirmed that to not be true. Several cheap cards I've been
    able to check on are hot-swapable but they are only 2 port cards so far.
    The problem is getting a hold of the no-name guys since they don't have
    numbers and email is hit or miss.

    >> Lastly, most of the 8 port cards are 64bit cards. I only have 32bit PCI
    >> available. Someone said they'll still work... is that true?
    >>
    > Yes, if the PCI slots are not keyed for 5V.
    >

    'if the PCI slots are not keyed for 5V' it will work? Meaning that my slots
    must be 3.3V(guessing from memory) for 64bit cards to work in a 32bit slot?

    --
    Shawn Wilson
  13. Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.storage,it.comp.hardware.storage (More info?)

    "Peter" <peterfoxghost@yahoo.ca> wrote
    >> It is like asking, is SCSI hot-swappable?
    >> Yes and no. Depends on particular implementation.
    >> And on the meaning of "hot-swappable".
    >
    > Hot-swap means ability to replace a failed component with a good device in
    > a
    > fault tolerant system, without causing disruption to an operating
    > computer.
    > If you want to hot-swap a hard drive, then you need to have a RAID system.
    > It is up to your RAID implementation to manage a rebuild process.
    > Physical removal and addition of powered on HD, requires a special
    > electrical (and mechanical) conditions to be done safely. Normally power
    > and
    > signalling connectors are combined, with a special care given to contacts
    > length and positions. It is done to ensure a proper sequence of
    > establishing
    > contacts (ground, power, data) during plug and unplug operations.
    > Mechanically, connector(s) are placed on a backplane and special guide
    > rails
    > and latches are designed to facilitate a smooth and reliable disk
    > attachments and detachments.
    >
    > So, you need a RAID compliant controller or Operating System for software
    > RAID - to perform rebuild; and a hard disk enclosure (backplane and disk
    > trays) which support hot-swapping. SATA drives and SATA controller are not
    > enough.
    >

    Sometimes I just assume that others will assume and I guess that's far too
    many assumptions.

    I'm well aware of the need for RAID and the proper hardware to accomplish a
    hot-swap. Those things have explicit documentation and guidelines readily
    available. What isn't well documented or known is whether all SATA
    controllers are by nature able to be used in a hot-swap situation assuming
    all else is capable (the drive, physical bay, os, etc...) I'm trying to
    decide on a controller and cannot as of yet come to a conclusive choice.

    My setup includes a server rack-mount case with 8 front 5 1/4 bays filled
    with drive swap trays. The setup will include 6 drives for now, 2 being
    part of one set and 4 being part of another set. The set of 2 will be a
    RAID 1 mirror set, and the set of 4 will be a 0+1 striped set of 2 mirrored
    to the other 2. The idea is for the mirror drives to be swaped on a
    schedule to have an off-site duplicate of our data. The 2 drive set would
    be swapped every day and take place of 8 of our current tape drive based
    daily backups. The 4 drive set would be a place to store whole machine
    images, and an archive history of files so we could recover last week's
    version of your documents. This is intended to be a NAS device that will
    replace all of our tape backups and expand our backup/restore capabilities.

    I'll be using SATA 150 drives at 400G each for now giving us a daily 400G
    store and a long term 800G store. All in all I'll have 2.4 TB online with
    1.2 TB effective (since it's all mirrored). And of course with the room to
    add two more drives to the long term storage to bring that up to 1.6
    effective. Did I mention that the price tag is currently under $3,000. The
    same setup from Dell is around $12,000. Granted, they use SCSI 320 drives
    at over $1,000 each - but my concern is total space, not per second speed.
    Backups have 8 hours at night to run over a dedicated Gigabit ethernet
    subnet, I wouldn't care if it took only 1 of those hours instead of 3.
    That's not worth $9,000 to me.

    Basically, the bottom line is that unless I can confirm from the
    manufacturers mouth that their card is capable, I'm on my own crossing my
    fingers, although chances are good that most anything I get will work. I
    would have thought that it would be more concrete than that, but in reality
    it doesn't seem to be.

    Case in point: In my personal computer I'm running an nForce2 board with 2
    on-board SATA ports. The online manual, the website, nor the reseller had
    any note of it being RAID capable. I found a user online with the same
    board who said it was. I took a chance, and when it arrived the box nor the
    manual made any mention of RAID, however upon boot, there it was. The RAID
    controller clearly announced itself and I'm running a nice and fast striped
    set for my system and game partitions.

    SATA RAID and hot-swap capabilities (as far as controllers are concerned)
    are just as inconsistent as USB used to be with their 'high speed' vs. real
    'USB 2.0' support. I remember reading that there was no official rule
    stating how to label 2.0 vs. 1.1 for a time and some hardware makers would
    label products 'high speed' that were not truly USB 2.0.

    It should be required on all SATA controllers to not just omit things like
    hot-swap or RAID, but to expressly note when either is not applicable. Not
    showing RAID or hot-swap in the description is not as intuitive as saying
    RAID: NO / Hot-Swap: NO. That responsibility probably lies with the
    hardware reseller and I've not found one yet that does it that way.

    In the end, I think I've gotten the help I need from the community and I
    thank you all. I have to rely on confirmation from specific manufacturers
    at this point on a per-card basis until I've had enough personal experience
    to reliably assume support or non-support.

    Thanks again to everyone.

    --
    Shawn Wilson
  14. Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.storage,it.comp.hardware.storage (More info?)

    > Sometimes I just assume that others will assume and I guess that's far too
    > many assumptions.
    >
    > I'm well aware of the need for RAID and the proper hardware to accomplish
    a
    > hot-swap. Those things have explicit documentation and guidelines readily
    > available. What isn't well documented or known is whether all SATA
    > controllers are by nature able to be used in a hot-swap situation assuming
    > all else is capable (the drive, physical bay, os, etc...) I'm trying to
    > decide on a controller and cannot as of yet come to a conclusive choice.
    >
    > My setup includes a server rack-mount case with 8 front 5 1/4 bays filled
    > with drive swap trays.

    Trays? You need drive enclosures (cages) and drive carriers (trays).
    What brand/model of cages/trays did you get?

    > The setup will include 6 drives for now, 2 being
    > part of one set and 4 being part of another set. The set of 2 will be a
    > RAID 1 mirror set, and the set of 4 will be a 0+1 striped set of 2
    mirrored
    > to the other 2. The idea is for the mirror drives to be swaped on a
    > schedule to have an off-site duplicate of our data.

    Interesting concept. Do you know that upon insert of replacement drives,
    array rebuild process starts?
    And in most cases it runs for quite a time, degradating system performance.
    How much? That depends on RAID controller and level of system activity. If a
    wrong second drive is pulled, or is pulled to early, filesystem might get
    damaged.

    > The 2 drive set would
    > be swapped every day and take place of 8 of our current tape drive based
    > daily backups. The 4 drive set would be a place to store whole machine
    > images, and an archive history of files so we could recover last week's
    > version of your documents. This is intended to be a NAS device that will
    > replace all of our tape backups and expand our backup/restore
    capabilities.

    Of course you will need to rewrite tape backup procedures to adopt NAS
    approach.

    > I'll be using SATA 150 drives at 400G each for now giving us a daily 400G
    > store and a long term 800G store. All in all I'll have 2.4 TB online with
    > 1.2 TB effective (since it's all mirrored). And of course with the room
    to
    > add two more drives to the long term storage to bring that up to 1.6
    > effective. Did I mention that the price tag is currently under $3,000.
    The
    > same setup from Dell is around $12,000. Granted, they use SCSI 320 drives
    > at over $1,000 each - but my concern is total space, not per second speed.
    > Backups have 8 hours at night to run over a dedicated Gigabit ethernet
    > subnet, I wouldn't care if it took only 1 of those hours instead of 3.
    > That's not worth $9,000 to me.
    >
    > Basically, the bottom line is that unless I can confirm from the
    > manufacturers mouth that their card is capable, I'm on my own crossing my
    > fingers, although chances are good that most anything I get will work. I
    > would have thought that it would be more concrete than that, but in
    reality
    > it doesn't seem to be.
    >
    > Case in point: In my personal computer I'm running an nForce2 board with
    2
    > on-board SATA ports. The online manual, the website, nor the reseller had
    > any note of it being RAID capable. I found a user online with the same
    > board who said it was. I took a chance, and when it arrived the box nor
    the
    > manual made any mention of RAID, however upon boot, there it was. The
    RAID
    > controller clearly announced itself and I'm running a nice and fast
    striped
    > set for my system and game partitions.

    Which motherboard was that?

    > SATA RAID and hot-swap capabilities (as far as controllers are concerned)
    > are just as inconsistent as USB used to be with their 'high speed' vs.
    real
    > 'USB 2.0' support. I remember reading that there was no official rule
    > stating how to label 2.0 vs. 1.1 for a time and some hardware makers would
    > label products 'high speed' that were not truly USB 2.0.
    >
    > It should be required on all SATA controllers to not just omit things like
    > hot-swap or RAID, but to expressly note when either is not applicable.
    Not
    > showing RAID or hot-swap in the description is not as intuitive as saying
    > RAID: NO / Hot-Swap: NO. That responsibility probably lies with the
    > hardware reseller and I've not found one yet that does it that way.
    >
    > In the end, I think I've gotten the help I need from the community and I
    > thank you all. I have to rely on confirmation from specific manufacturers
    > at this point on a per-card basis until I've had enough personal
    experience
    > to reliably assume support or non-support.

    Good approach. Run your NAS paralled to tape based backup procedures for a
    while.

    Don't forget to check hardware claimed reliability numbers. Last time I have
    checked, RAID SATA cotrollers had relatively low numbers.

    >
    > Thanks again to everyone.
    >
    > --
    > Shawn Wilson
    >
  15. Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.storage,it.comp.hardware.storage (More info?)

    "Peter" <peterfoxghost@yahoo.ca> wrote in message news:NciUe.23088$vN.808833@news20.bellglobal.com
    > > It is like asking, is SCSI hot-swappable?
    > > Yes and no. Depends on particular implementation.
    > > And on the meaning of "hot-swappable".
    >
    > Hot-swap means ability to replace a failed component with a good device in a
    > fault tolerant system,

    Nonsense. That's just an application.

    > without causing disruption to an operating computer.
    > If you want to hot-swap a hard drive, then you need to have a RAID system.
    > It is up to your RAID implementation to manage a rebuild process.
    > Physical removal and addition of powered on HD, requires a special
    > electrical (and mechanical) conditions to be done safely. Normally power and
    > signalling connectors are combined, with a special care given to contacts
    > length and positions. It is done to ensure a proper sequence of establishing
    > contacts (ground, power, data) during plug and unplug operations.
    > Mechanically, connector(s) are placed on a backplane and special guide rails
    > and latches are designed to facilitate a smooth and reliable disk
    > attachments and detachments.
    >
    > So, you need a RAID compliant controller or Operating System for software
    > RAID - to perform rebuild; and a hard disk enclosure (backplane and disk
    > trays) which support hot-swapping. SATA drives and SATA controller are not
    > enough.
  16. Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.storage,it.comp.hardware.storage (More info?)

    "Peter" <peterfoxghost@yahoo.ca> wrote
    >>
    >> My setup includes a server rack-mount case with 8 front 5 1/4 bays filled
    >> with drive swap trays.
    >
    > Trays? You need drive enclosures (cages) and drive carriers (trays).
    > What brand/model of cages/trays did you get?

    Yes, they are drive cages and trays together, just figured the word tray was
    enough. Good attention to detail though.

    Not a 'name' brand. I'm finding them in several places (I'm spec'ing out
    the system, haven't purchased anything yet)

    >> The setup will include 6 drives for now, 2 being
    >> part of one set and 4 being part of another set. The set of 2 will be a
    >> RAID 1 mirror set, and the set of 4 will be a 0+1 striped set of 2
    > mirrored
    >> to the other 2. The idea is for the mirror drives to be swaped on a
    >> schedule to have an off-site duplicate of our data.
    >
    > Interesting concept. Do you know that upon insert of replacement drives,
    > array rebuild process starts?
    > And in most cases it runs for quite a time, degradating system
    > performance.
    > How much? That depends on RAID controller and level of system activity. If
    > a
    > wrong second drive is pulled, or is pulled to early, filesystem might get
    > damaged.

    I actually may modify my concept to allow for two 4port controllers instead
    of one 8 based on cost and no 64bit PCI slots. That would mean though that
    the raid cards wouldn't be handling the mirror process unless I could tie
    two controllers together somehow. This is still up in the air though.

    Since this is a NAS backup box with nothing else to do except keep track of
    those drives, it can be as busy as it wants to be. It's only job will be to
    keep that data as a backup, we won't be accessing it live unless we'd need
    to restore (and that wouldn't be anytime around the time we're swaping
    drives anyway)

    Yes, the rebuild is exactly what I need to happen, so when I remove a mirror
    drive and put in another, the one I just put in gets sync'd to what's on the
    one that stayed in. This all should happen automatically, right? Even if I
    had to use some software to tell it to start, that'd be ok, but just one
    more step to remember.

    For the stripe set, I would imagine I would need to remove all 3 mirrors,
    then put in the swaps in order for it to work without issue.

    >> The 2 drive set would
    >> be swapped every day and take place of 8 of our current tape drive based
    >> daily backups. The 4 drive set would be a place to store whole machine
    >> images, and an archive history of files so we could recover last week's
    >> version of your documents. This is intended to be a NAS device that will
    >> replace all of our tape backups and expand our backup/restore
    > capabilities.
    >
    > Of course you will need to rewrite tape backup procedures to adopt NAS
    > approach.

    Oh yes, and we can delete whole sections about making sure the tapes aren't
    too old... where fresh tapes are kept... waiting on the tape to eject...
    what to do if it doesn't eject... making sure there aren't any errors
    reported... blah, blah, blah... man I hate dealing with tapes... This
    instruction sheet will go from 50 steps to 2 real quick. (exhagerating, but
    you get the idea)

    Not to mention the added bonus of the fact that the entire NAS box costs
    less than 2 of our tape drives. This box will pay for itself in 2 years
    assuming a 50% failure rate on the new hard drives or controllers. Less
    than 1 year if things last as long as I'm used to with my own experience
    with SATA drives. (the failure rate is overkill I think even for disaster
    planning, but I wanted to cover worst case)

    >> Case in point: In my personal computer I'm running an nForce2 board with
    > 2
    >> on-board SATA ports. The online manual, the website, nor the reseller
    >> had
    >> any note of it being RAID capable. I found a user online with the same
    >> board who said it was. I took a chance, and when it arrived the box nor
    > the
    >> manual made any mention of RAID, however upon boot, there it was. The
    > RAID
    >> controller clearly announced itself and I'm running a nice and fast
    > striped
    >> set for my system and game partitions.
    >
    > Which motherboard was that?

    My personal motherboard is currently an MSI nForce2 board... although I'm at
    work and can't recall the model number. It's DDR400, Athlon XP, 2 SATA
    ports, AGP 8x, dual NICs (one gigabit). Google searches are making me think
    it's a KT4 Ultra, however today I'm getting much more information and it's
    quite prevelant that the onboard SATA supports RAID. I don't remember mine
    being 'bluetooth ready' but it must be since this looks like my board.

    I'm trying to decide on an upgrade path, but I'm holding off just a bit
    because I can't decide on PCIe vs AGP for my next video card. My question
    there isn't about performance ceiling so you don't need to tell me about the
    glorious PCIe. I've been keeping up on it and realize the potential for
    PCIe, but in my price range I can go either way and have the same
    performance. My last thought was looking at an X800, but that's on a back
    burner and off topic.


    --
    Shawn Wilson
  17. Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.storage,it.comp.hardware.storage (More info?)

    > I actually may modify my concept to allow for two 4port controllers
    instead
    > of one 8 based on cost and no 64bit PCI slots. That would mean though
    that
    > the raid cards wouldn't be handling the mirror process unless I could tie
    > two controllers together somehow. This is still up in the air though.
    >
    > Since this is a NAS backup box with nothing else to do except keep track
    of
    > those drives, it can be as busy as it wants to be. It's only job will be
    to
    > keep that data as a backup, we won't be accessing it live unless we'd need
    > to restore (and that wouldn't be anytime around the time we're swaping
    > drives anyway)

    You would also write data to NAS box on regular basis (did you forget
    running backups?). You need to know if your RAID rebuilds finished on time.

    >
    > Yes, the rebuild is exactly what I need to happen, so when I remove a
    mirror
    > drive and put in another, the one I just put in gets sync'd to what's on
    the
    > one that stayed in. This all should happen automatically, right? Even if
    I
    > had to use some software to tell it to start, that'd be ok, but just one
    > more step to remember.
    >
    > For the stripe set, I would imagine I would need to remove all 3 mirrors,
    > then put in the swaps in order for it to work without issue.

    I wonder how RAID controller would like to rebuild 3 drives at once? That
    will be an interesting experiment...

    > >> The 2 drive set would
    > >> be swapped every day and take place of 8 of our current tape drive
    based
    > >> daily backups. The 4 drive set would be a place to store whole machine
    > >> images, and an archive history of files so we could recover last week's
    > >> version of your documents. This is intended to be a NAS device that
    will
    > >> replace all of our tape backups and expand our backup/restore
    > > capabilities.
    > >
    > > Of course you will need to rewrite tape backup procedures to adopt NAS
    > > approach.
    >
    > Oh yes, and we can delete whole sections about making sure the tapes
    aren't
    > too old... where fresh tapes are kept... waiting on the tape to eject...
    > what to do if it doesn't eject... making sure there aren't any errors
    > reported... blah, blah, blah... man I hate dealing with tapes... This
    > instruction sheet will go from 50 steps to 2 real quick. (exhagerating,
    but
    > you get the idea)
    >
    > Not to mention the added bonus of the fact that the entire NAS box costs
    > less than 2 of our tape drives. This box will pay for itself in 2 years
    > assuming a 50% failure rate on the new hard drives or controllers. Less
    > than 1 year if things last as long as I'm used to with my own experience
    > with SATA drives. (the failure rate is overkill I think even for disaster
    > planning, but I wanted to cover worst case)

    Just be careful using above NAS for system images and archived files. Make
    sure you have a second copy of those handy...

    >
    > >> Case in point: In my personal computer I'm running an nForce2 board
    with
    > > 2
    > >> on-board SATA ports. The online manual, the website, nor the reseller
    > >> had
    > >> any note of it being RAID capable. I found a user online with the same
    > >> board who said it was. I took a chance, and when it arrived the box
    nor
    > > the
    > >> manual made any mention of RAID, however upon boot, there it was. The
    > > RAID
    > >> controller clearly announced itself and I'm running a nice and fast
    > > striped
    > >> set for my system and game partitions.
    > >
    > > Which motherboard was that?
    >
    > My personal motherboard is currently an MSI nForce2 board... although I'm
    at
    > work and can't recall the model number. It's DDR400, Athlon XP, 2 SATA
    > ports, AGP 8x, dual NICs (one gigabit). Google searches are making me
    think
    > it's a KT4 Ultra, however today I'm getting much more information and it's
    > quite prevelant that the onboard SATA supports RAID. I don't remember
    mine
    > being 'bluetooth ready' but it must be since this looks like my board.
    >
    > I'm trying to decide on an upgrade path, but I'm holding off just a bit
    > because I can't decide on PCIe vs AGP for my next video card. My question
    > there isn't about performance ceiling so you don't need to tell me about
    the
    > glorious PCIe. I've been keeping up on it and realize the potential for
    > PCIe, but in my price range I can go either way and have the same
    > performance. My last thought was looking at an X800, but that's on a back
    > burner and off topic.
    >
    >
    > --
    > Shawn Wilson
    >
    >
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